Before I moved to New York, I had a few images cemented in my mind. They mostly came from movies, and I was fairly certain they were all 100% true of NY life. For one, I fully expected every single person who lived in New York to talk out of their nostrils like that lady from The Nanny. Thankfully that wasn't true. I also expected New York children to play stickball and run through busted fire hydrants all summer long. In 12 summers here, I haven't seen either. Not even once. And last, I expected everyone to spend Sunday morning reading the Times and eating breakfast at a diner. Except it was pronounced die-nah in my head. Curse you, Fran Drescher.
And though it is certainly not tradition, last Sunday this New Yorker did spend her morning eating breakfast at a diner. Except it was two Sundays ago. And one in the afternoon. I told you my premonitions weren't exactly accurate.
Except, this ain't no ordinary diner. This menu has no flapjacks or "diet" cottage cheese and cantaloupe combo. This is M. Wells Diner, the place that's been making headlines in Manhattan even though it's across the bridge in Long Island City, Queens.
And here's why: Can you read some of the stuff on that there menu? Crispy veal brain. Fried pickled duck. Foie gras syrup and bacon pie with gravlax. You ever seen those offerings at a diner before? Yeah, me neither. Unfortunately for this review, Vin and I are not balls-(or brains)-to-the-wall eaters and our selections, though fantastic, were not as daring as the offerings.
Vin went for the Cuban sandwich with lots of roasted pork, melty cheese and tangy mustard. It was really, really tasty.
My selection was a Tortilla Espanola, one of my favorite dishes which I haven't been able to master in my own kitchen. It was offered plain, or with "special stuff". When I inquired about the special stuff was, I was told it was blood sausage and lamb brains. Hmmm, no thanks! I requested mine plain. Unfortunately, I was given the special stuff anyway and ate around it before realizing that black ooze wasn't beans. Once I was given the one I ordered, I chowed down feverishly as it was so freakin' good. I also had a green salad, which sounds plain, but was really a bed of fresh mixed herbs and a super tangy buttermilk herb dressing like I'd never tasted before. This place is definitely unique!
We ended on a sweet note with coffee, tea and a cinnamon cake donut. I am all about the donuts lately. Just ask my thighs.
If you're looking for an extraordinary diner experience, you should definitely check out M. Wells. It will probably meet--and exceed--any New York City expectations you have. Unless, of course, you're expecting your waitress to wear a little pink uniform and orthopedic shoes like they do in the movies. Then you may be disappointed.
M. Wells Diner
21-17 49th Avenue at 21st Street in Long Island City, Queens